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The risk of RPA implementation and how to mitigate it

September 24, 2020

The advantages of implementing robotic process automation (RPA) are well known. Reduced operating costs, significant process improvements, redeployment of resources to higher value functions, enhanced customer service, improved productivity and quality … the list goes on.

However, it is also imperative that business leaders understand and analyze the potential risks of RPA in order to optimize their technology investments. Technical glitches, security issues, and a flawed adoption and implementation process can reduce profitability and impact employee efficiency and business workflows.

RPA strategy risk

Although RPA can drive innovation and maximize competitiveness, organizations often set unrealistic goals and expectations for RPA implementation, or misuse it for a one-off, isolated area. This leads to a situation where RPA fails to deliver on its promise of delivering enhanced value, and the subsequent impact on under-resourcing of any RPA initiatives.

Organizations that only leverage RPA to cut down spending by reducing FTE headcount instead of using it to innovate and improve how work is done, lack any strategic intent or end-point design in their RPA projects.

Mitigating the risk associated to RPA strategy requires the implementation of a solid, future-proof target operating model and the right intelligent process automation tools.

Stakeholder buy-in risk

Implementing RPA requires stakeholder buy-in at different levels across the enterprise – typically including the executive suite, IT, employees, and even external stakeholders such as customers and service partners.

It is not uncommon for IT departments to write off RPA as a hyped up technology with low value and the potential to threaten stability and security. Not to mention the basic risk of employees viewing RPA as a threat to their jobs, and actively stalling or derailing implementation.

Making the business aware that the active engagement of stakeholders across the organization is crucial to enjoying the fruit of successful RPA implementation and delivery.

Operational and execution risk

Operational risks occur when robots are deployed without proper operating model. If enterprises don’t define roles and rush into training, responsibilities can be blurred when bots go into production, and human RPA supervisors can find themselves confused on their actual roles.

RPA initiatives adopted by organizations to reduce headcount and generate more savings often fail due to the large load of changing processes and exception handling. Simply speaking, they often don’t have the resources required to build a robust RPA solution – buying the wrong tool, making wrong assumptions, taking shortcuts, and jeopardizing security and compliance.

The risk associated with operational execution can easily be avoided by implementing a digitally augmented workforce, which can be deployed at scale to deliver sustainable business results.

 Change management risk

A poor communication plan, lack of executive and grassroots buy-in, and lack of operational models puts your operations at risk. Underestimating and under-resourcing change management activities can jeopardize a proper alignment between the strategy, processes, technology, and people in the implementation lifecycle, leading to HR issues, delays, and missed opportunities.

Having a solid, realistic, and well-communicated change management strategy in place is key to the success of a disruptive RPA implementation.

 Maturity risk

When organizations reach maturity with their initial deployment and begin scaling up RPA across different business units and geographies, they often face sustainability risks, such as rapid proliferation of automation requests, duplicated efforts across divisions, and under-utilization of bots.

Other risks can include unchanged labor and process silos, lack of preparation for automation progress into cognitive technologies, and shortage or leakage of RPA talent.

Mitigating risk related to maturity requires the creation of a Center of Excellence that can deploy easy to use, standardized solutions and continuous improvement to enhance the efficiency of automation.

To conclude, innovative solutions are meant to be disruptive – but with the benefits come risk. Having a realistic view of RPA and preparing to mitigate risk can make a big difference in enabling your RPA initiatives to reach their maximum potential.

To learn how Capgemini’s Intelligent Process Automation  offering can enhance your business operations with automated, end-to-end processes and a digitally augmented workforce at scale, contact:

Nilesh Jain helps clients to maximize their corporate performance through focusing on process improvement and transformation, quality management, customer service and retention, workflow streamlining, and innovation. He is committed to creating a collaborative and productive workforce culture through introducing innovative solutions to drive efficiency and optimize performance